The Japanese automaker Subaru is recalling nearly 50,000 zombie-vehicles because they run the risk of starting themselves, without human intervention.

Subaru said the recall applies to 47,419 Legacy, Outback and Impreza models produced from 2010 to 2013. The recall also includes Crosstrek vehicles from 2013.

But the vehicles’ defect does not seem to be paranormal. The affected Subarus contain an automatic transmission and an Audiovox remote engine starter, according to the automaker.

“If the [remote engine starter] is dropped, the fob may malfunction and randomly transmit an engine start request without pressing the button,” read the recall letter from Subaru of America, addressed to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

This is no small matter, according to the Subaru letter, which detailed what can happen when the car takes on a life of its own:

“The engine may inadvertently start and run for up to 15 minutes,” the letter said. “The engine may continue to start and stop until the fob battery is depleted, or until the vehicle runs out of fuel. If the vehicle is parked in an enclosed area, there is a risk of carbon monoxide build-up which may cause asphyxiation.”

The letter to the NHTSA didn’t say anything about drooling or staggering.

  1. dusanmal says:

    Not really zombie-like. My college ’78 Pontiac Phoenix did a better impersonation: you would turn ignition off and car would still be running, and not just minute or two…. (yes, I know why but the whole point of that car was to use it without any intervention until it fell apart or inspection time arrived – latter happened first and car went to junkyard for 50$, considering purchase price of 250$ and 12500 miles covered over that year – the best deal in the car I ever got).

  2. msbpodcast says:

    I knew there was a reason I didn’t like that feature.

    Self-start might seem useful at -20° but I still prefer to walk to the car and starting it up myself.

    For one thing, at -40° it takes a whole lot more cranking to get the oil flowing. (Even with a block heater, the starter needs, uh, encouragement. 🙂

    You have to gently nurse the starter to get your car going if you’re in an exposed parking lot, with no plugs, in Gatineau across the Ottawa river (I still remember parking at the fuckin’ DSS facility.)

  3. Jap Crap says:

    Around here leaving an unattended vehicle running is called “puffing”, and it’s ILLEGAL! So it’s nice to know there’s at least one or two more (foreign) companies into BREAKING THE LAW!

    I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not. Although calling it “zombie” is a bit of a stretch. But then not very many people would read the “story” here if it were titled more appropriately, like “Serious Subaru Starter Screw-up” or something.

    • msbpodcast says:

      And in Alaska they keep the engines running in big diesel rigs from late October, early November to late April or early May, otherwise they can just forget about starting that engine.

      • Gwad his own self says:

        Yeah, I spent one cold January in Palmer Alaska, when the warmest it got the whole time I was there was -31F. For those who have never been in that sort of cold, there is a sort of good news; -31 doesn’t really FEEL much colder than 10F. It’s just a lot more dangerous.

        But while I was there pretty much nobody every turned their car off unless it was plugged in to a block heater. And there were electrical outlets all over town; they looked like and were as plentiful as parking meters. It was a hoot to go to the grocery store and see 60 cars all idling away. A couple of people that I was working with (Matinuska Electric) had float planes. They told me SOP in cold weather was to drain the oil when you landed and then put it under your sleeping bag. However -31 was too cold even for that, so I missed that experience.

        Awesome place, I learned a lot. For example, don’t worry about bears, they’re pussies. Worry about the moose, they’re stupid and very mean.

  4. moss says:

    Everyone I knew in the Mafia loved this system. A favorite add-on for Cadillacs. Cheaper than paying for a funeral for your wife – if she was blown up after you sent her out to start your car.

  5. Admfubar says:

    see the great new movie from the UK, Cockneys vs Subarus.. 😛

  6. Cocksucker says:

    Are these the push start type?

  7. Supreme Ultrahuman (I see the comment system is still designed for retards.) says:

    AFAIK the biggest Subaru made barely crosses the threshold for smallest vehicle worth of an American so…yawn…

  8. t0llyb0ng says:

    Vaguely reminiscent of the ’70s or ’80s when a TV could catch fire in the middle of the night & burn your house down & it wouldn’t even have to be turned on.  There were big lawsuits over it, of course.  But you’ve never heard of the phenomenon because, as part of a settlement agreement, everything about the case was placed under seal, so as to protect the precious reputation of the corporations that produced the sets.

    • msbpodcast says:

      Sorry but, give a citation or your memory is a fantasy.

      While they amount of any settlement might be sealed, the fact that a fire happened, or its cause, would not.

    • WmDE says:

      Instant-On Television! Probably blamed for more house fires than it actually caused. Makers of tube-type tvs would keep the filaments warm on the vacuum tubes so the set would come on as quickly as the new-fangled solid state sets. The instant on tv was never totally off. Neither is your 51 inch flat screen.

      When I was a kid you had to wait for the tv to warm up. Now you have to wait for the tv to boot-up. Oddly it takes about the same amount of time.

    • CrankyGeeksFan says:

      On Feb. 6, 1983, a Zenith TV caught fire in an apartment inside the State of Texas Capitol. If firefighters hadn’t arrived in time, the fire would have burned the building down.

      I don’t know if the TV was tube or transistor.

  9. msbpodcast says:

    I just remembered my mother uh, inherited, my father’s baby blue Oldsmobile Delta 88 with a 420 cubic inch displacement motor.

    He kept that car running like a top. He used it to drive to “the cottage” from Montréal, Québec, Canada to St. Alban’s, Vermont, USA and back every week, about 90 miles. And he drove like Fangio. The speedometer was always broken so he never knew how fast he was driving (or how low he was flying.:-))

    My mother never changed the oil in any car even once. She drove the car around 2 miles occasionally to go to and from work at the library and came straight home. She used to walk the distance most of the time anyway. Later, she took the bus. (She always hated to drive.)

    A few years of neglect, after my father had passed away, that engine was so filled with carbon that it must have been down to the displacement of a ricer about 120cc.

    She only used it when it was raining or snowing.

    It used to run-on for almost a minute after she’d turned off the damn engine. That was my mom. 🙂

  10. CrankyGeeksFan says:

    Does the zombie wearing the hoodie remind anyone of Justin Bieber?

    • deowll says:

      Well, It’s kind of like with people/Zombies. The surest way to stop them is to take out the electronics which in this case would be the battery and alternator. No spark for the plug and no go.

    • /T. says:

      All zombies remind me of Bieber …

  11. jim g says:

    “Gotta shoot’em in the…..” ummmm ….where exactly DO you shoot a “zombie” car????

  12. DogEars says:

    I’m not sure you can really even classify this as a “vehicle” recall. The problem is the remote control fob, which is what Subaru will replace. I haven’t seen anything to indicate that they’ll make any change to the starter installed on the car.

    • CrankyGeeksFan says:

      Take the battery out of the fob to make sure it remains quiet at night

  13. Boringfileclerk says:

    Eh, don’t have to worry about my Subaru. It’s a six speed manual. They don’t make make auto start for those that I know of.


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